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Stoke will be no pushovers for Spurs, warns Mourinho

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Tottenham Hotspur’s Portuguese head coach Jose Mourinho looks on from the sidelines during the UEFA Europa League 1st round Group J football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Ludogorets at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, on November 26, 2020. (Photo by Ian KINGTON / POOL / AFP)

Jose Mourinho says he and his Tottenham Hotspur players will not take second-tier Stoke for granted when they clash in Wednesday’s League Cup quarter-final.

The Portuguese boss is keen to succeed where several of his predecessors have fallen short in delivering silverware to the club for the first time since the 2008 League Cup.

However, he says the gap between the Premier League and the Championship is narrower than it was and seventh-placed Stoke will be a tricky opponent to beat.

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“Everybody wants the same (to win a trophy),” said Mourinho at Tuesday’s press conference.

“Even the Championship from the last decade, the difference between Championship and Premier League is minimum.

“The teams are very good. They have very good players and very good coaches.

“So even the fact we play Stoke or Newcastle play Brentford (later on Tuesday) doesn’t give us easier matches than the others.”

Mourinho said that the comforting factor was that the team were progressing the way he wanted them to.

They lie sixth in the Premier League table — six points off leaders Liverpool — and breezed through their group to the Europa League knockout stages.

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“It’s a difficult competition to win and we need to win three matches to win it,” he said.

“But we are going in the direction of what we are saying at the beginning of the season.”

Mourinho, though, is mindful that he needs to rest some players as the Stoke match will be their 25th of the season already with the usual hectic schedule coming up over the Christmas period.

The 57-year-old said he will put out a side featuring a mix of regular Premier League starters and those that have mainly played in the Europa League.

“Clearly some players need to play and deserve to play,” said Mourinho, who has won the League Cup four times, on three occasions with Chelsea and once with Manchester United.

“From the ones that are playing more time there are others that we don’t have great options, but of course I will try to give a little rest to two or three of them.”

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